Monday, April 10, 2017

Queen Cells Galore! Making Nukes!

What a difference two weeks make. We decided to divide Rachel's hive today and when we opened
up the box we found lots of queen cells, loads of bees, some capped and uncapped brood, but no eggs and no sign of a queen. We wondered if we "rolled the queen" when we checked, but there was one capped swarm cell and those are made when the hive is getting ready to swarm. The workers build an egg cup, and the queen lays an egg in it. We didn't see that when we checked the hive two weeks ago so she was likely in the hive then.

It's possible they swarmed, but unlikely since there are so many bees. We also found several supercedure cells which are generally in the middle of a frame unlike the swarm cells which are generally at the bottom. The bees make those when they aren't happy with the work the queen is doing. At any rate, there were enough capped queen cells to divide the hive into four nukes. So we now have six hives and one laying queen. The bees cap the queen cells around day seven, and the queen emerges on day 15. She usually takes her maiden flight around day 20 if the weather cooperates and begins laying around day 24. So in two weeks at the latest we should have some laying queens in the nukes that had capped queen cells.

So here's the status.

In the upper yard we have Queen Madeleine (born 2016) and a queenless nuke. In the lower yard we have the queenless split we made two weeks ago and the three other nukes we made today which have queen cells but little or no brood. Since the cells were all capped it's likely those nukes will have laying queens in 2-3 weeks. We'll feed all the nukes today and give them some pollen. Then we'll leave them alone for two weeks.

We made the split on March 29th, so that hive had to raise a queens from scratch. So by the end of April there should be a laying queen in that hive as well. We'll plan to check that hive around the 25th of April.

We'll check Queen Madeleine in a few days to see what she's up to and if she needs another box. At present she has two. So our status is:

Upper Bee Yard:
2-box hive with Queen Madeleine, from split on March 29
1-box nuke made today from Queen Rachel's hive -- fed today 1/2 gal. syrup and pollen
Lower Bee Yard:
2-box split from Queen Madeleine, had to raise new queen from egg cell -- fed yesterday
1-box nuke with queen cell -- fed 1/2 gal. syrup and pollen patty today
1-box nuke with queen cell -- ditto
Rachel with queen -- ditto
So there we are. Guess we needed all that new equipment after all. We didn't even have time to paint the bottom boards. But the way things go, we'll likely get a chance sometime during the season.

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